Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The killing of bin Laden will have major political consequences.

So argues Peter Beinart.

The whole article is worth reading (like most of what Beinart writes on foreign policy), but here's a sample:

[T]he view that Democrats won’t use force . . . was never true. Bill Clinton, after all, sent troops to Haiti, and bombed Bosnia and Kosovo. But barely anyone remembers those missions and because their rationale was humanitarian, they made the Democrats seem like armed social workers. The bin Laden operation, by contrast, was pure testosterone. Once U.S. intelligence tracked bin Laden to his compound, Obama chose the most aggressive option—a commando attack—rather than missile strikes, even though it risked U.S. deaths or hostages. In the mountains of Tora Bora, it’s worth remembering, George W. Bush made the opposite choice: deploying Afghan rather than American forces because he feared American casualties. And bin Laden got away. . . .

Second, the view that Democrats pray at the altar of international institutions and international law. Nonsense. . . . Obama has dramatically increased drone attacks, in Afpak and beyond, which shred international law. And this attack was so unilateral that we didn’t even consult with the “ally” on whose territory we carried it out. When Obama said he would strike in Pakistan without its permission during the campaign, few believed him; it didn’t play to type. Now it’s more likely they will.